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TMI with
Priyanka Jain &
Laine Bruzek,
Co-Founders of Evvy

TMI with
Priyanka Jain &
Laine Bruzek,
Co-Founders of Evvy

Thank you both for joining us. Before we dive in, can you introduce yourselves and Evvy?

Priyanka: I’m Priyanka, co-founder and CEO of Evvy. Our mission is to radically reinvent how we understand and treat the female body, starting with the vaginal microbiome! Our Vaginal Health Test, is actually the first-ever at-home vaginal microbiome test to use metagenomic sequencing to tell you what’s up down there, why it matters, and what you can do about it.

Laine: I’m Laine, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer here at Evvy! Priyanka and my north stars have always been: how can we better serve women where they’ve historically been overlooked, especially due to systemic bias and stigmatization? And female health — and more specifically vaginal health — certainly checks that box.

That’s why we’re also powering the research needed to close the gender health gap by discovering how female biomarkers can be better leveraged to predict risk, diagnose, and treat complex health conditions in the female body.

Can you share what motivated you to get involved in women’s health and why you decided to focus on vaginal health/microbiome?

Laine: We chose to focus on the vaginal microbiome because vaginal health lives at the core of day-to-day physical, sexual, and mental wellness for many people. Plus, at least 30% of women suffer from imbalances in the vaginal microbiome every year (like bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and recurrent UTIs). Recent research has also uncovered groundbreaking links between the vaginal microbiome and infertility, STI acquisition, preterm birth, cervical cancer progression, and more.

But even though the vaginal microbiome is an important marker of health, women (and their providers) have never had affordable access to it — until Evvy.

For those struggling with recurrent vaginal symptoms, Evvy’s metagenomic test can bring answers to what is otherwise a long and difficult journey of identifying which microbes are related to their symptoms or which treatments are actually improving their microbiome.

Additionally, Evvy empowers anyone with a vagina to take control of their preventative health by understanding the composition of their unique microbiome, how it's related to their health goals, and how to better care for it.

We know the gender health gap exists but can you share how you’re on a mission to solve it?

Priyanka: Evvy was founded on the simple insight that there is much we still don’t know about how to best care for women and people with vaginas — given that women weren’t required to be in US clinical research until 1993. To this day, women are diagnosed on average 4 years later than men across 770+ diseases!

Our aim is to close this gender health gap by studying previously overlooked female biomarkers, like the vaginal microbiome, to create the research on the female body we so desperately need.

But the vaginal microbiome is just the beginning! We’re already planning to expand into new biomarkers, datasets, and products that can transform how we diagnose and treat conditions in the female body.

Navigating the healthcare system in the United States is extremely challenging, do you have any tips to help educate and encourage people to advocate for themselves?

Laine: It can definitely be difficult to be your own advocate in the healthcare system, especially as a woman or a non-white person.

But we believe that education is one of the best ways to build confidence in starting those conversations with your provider. It can also help you identify gaps in research or treatment that your provider might not be aware of.

That’s why we’re championing scientifically-sound, destigmatized vaginal health education — so that women and people with vaginas feel more empowered to advocate for themselves at the doctor’s office, speak freely about their vaginal health, and learn from each other on how to lead healthier lives.

As a fellow female founder, I’m curious to hear a few things on your experience launching a company, particularly in an emerging category…
As founders, what has been your biggest challenge to date to get the company up and off the ground?

Priyanka: One of our biggest challenges is educating people with vaginas and their healthcare providers on the vaginal microbiome.

Most people with vaginas don’t even know they have a vaginal microbiome — so we not only need to educate them about its existence but also the fact that it can have a significant effect on overall health!

On top of that, vaginal health is still an extremely taboo topic, so it’s clear we’re fighting an uphill battle to get the word out. It’s one we’re determined to win though — that’s why we’re investing heavily in judgment-free, scientifically-sound vaginal health education.

What surprises you the most based on your interaction with customers around your products for women’s health?

Laine: We’re not surprised but we are so excited to see how much Evvy resonates with women that have felt overlooked in their vaginal healthcare for so long. And more than anything, we fiercely admire the women we’ve spoken to who have turned traumatic experiences in the healthcare system into the foundation for becoming their own advocates.

They inspire us because they’re amazing detectives and educators and communicators — but most importantly they ALWAYS come back and share their knowledge with their family & friends or in forums like Facebook groups. They always leave the community more informed than they found it. So we’re inspired to build Evvy in the same way: build better tools, research, and education but never stop turning around to give it straight back to the community.

At Hello.Me our mission is to “change what it means to be hormonal” as the outlook is typically negative. What does “being hormonal” mean to the both of you and has your perception changed after founding Evvy?

Priyanka: Hormones were one of the main reasons that women and even female mice have been excluded from scientific research! As we work to close this gender research gap, we all have to start thinking about hormones as an opportunity for better risk prediction and care and not a liability.

We’ve started reframing the term ‘TMI’ to mean ‘Talk More Intimately’. Our goal is to empower people to talk about topics that society has typically deemed to be “taboo”. Would you be open to sharing a personal ‘TMI’ story regarding vaginal health that you hope inspires others to start talking about this topic more openly?

Priyanka: It’s one thing to talk about destigmatizing vaginal health, but I’m proud that we’ve found ways to actually put that in practice — because it’s not enough to just talk about “destigmatizing vaginal health.” Breaking down a taboo only happens when people are brave enough to share their personal encounters with it.

So we’ve decided to lead the way. We’ve told every venture capitalist and reporter in NYC about our chronic vaginal infections. We’ve joked about our discharge to millions of people on TikTok. On our educational platform #AskEvvy and in our private support community, we’ve created a safe space for thousands of women where nothing is TMI, where they can learn about their vaginas in a judgment-free and even celebratory space. And along the way, we’ve empowered our community to share their stories, too!

 

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